Redhead Baby Mama | Atlanta Mom Blogger

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How to Load a Dishwasher... with Help from @MyCascade #DDDivas #sponsored

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Cascade. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine.  

I love indulging in comfort foods. Being from the South, sweet tea and comfort foods are king, and macaroni and cheese is considered a "vegetable" in many restaurants.  Because it is.  Totally.   But not all recipes are created equal, which is why I really love the Pioneer Woman's version. It's cheesy, gooey, sticks to your gut and is really hard to get off a pan.  Kinda like baked on brownies.  Tasty, and so worth it.  But getting those pans clean afterwards is a pain in the neck.  I hosted a little comfort foods tasting party for my friends, and with the help of Cascade, got those dishes clean without a pre wash.  
Cascade Platinum Dishwasher Rinse Aid in Action #CascadeShiningReviews #DDDivas #sponsored
Check out this Mac N Cheese.  Blazing hot, all covered in cheddar and Colby Jack.  And another comfort food I love fried chicken.  Big, fat tenders with lots of dipping sauces. It's a staple in our neck of the woods.  (But just try cleaning that pan afterwards, and we'll talk).  
Southern Comfort foods are the BEST. Which ones are your favorites? #cascadeshiningreviews
After all the entrees were laid out on the table, it was time to clean the dishes.  Did you know that there's a right way to load your dishwasher?  Keep your big dishes and pans on the bottom rack.  They stay near the sprayers and get maximum cleaning effort.  More delicate dishes and cups go on the top rack, making sure never to put your glasses over the tines... just nestle them between them. It helps keep your glassware streak free!  I loaded the dishwasher up with Cascade Platinum rinse aid and a pac, with no pre washing at all! (See all that cheese on the ladle? Oh yeah.  NO prewashing here at all!)  I was really nervous that the pans wouldn't be clean, and the heat from the dishwasher would bake the chocolate on even more. But you know what? I'll be darned if the Cascade Platinum not only made our dishes spotless, the dishwasher itself seemed a little cleaner, too.  
Cascade REALLY can clean a pan with no pre washing. Even baked on brownies stand no chance! #cascadeshiningreviews #DDDivas #sponsored
Now, keep in mind that I have a LOT of fun with my friends.  Not all of them wanted to get in on the picture (literally), but those that did had a great time conveying their surprise at the cleaning power onto film. Goofy faces, but the surprise was real. They didn't think it would be that clean.
I had all of my guests share their own thoughts on the dishwasher education and Cascade performance at the party. When they went home, I loaded them up with a big pack of Cascade Platinum and the Cascade Rinse Aid to try for themselves.

Carly was a believer. She told me the next day that her dishwasher was sparkling, and she couldn't believe that Cascade made that big of a difference.  Doesn't she look like she could take Vanna White's job?!
Fabulous Cascade Platinum as modeled by The Puzzled Palate.  It really gets your dishes CLEAN #CascadeShiningReviews
If you want to try Cascade Platinum for yourself, and try loading your dishwasher smarter, be sure to enter the rafflecopter widget below to win a bag of Cascade Platinum, Cascade Platinum Rinse Aid, Whisk, Spatula, Cheese grater, and Oven mitts.  Create your own Mac N Cheese and test the power of your dishwasher!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Tailgating; a Family Affair

It's that time again! UGA fans gather in Athens, GA on fall Saturdays for head to head matches in beer pong, cornhole, grilling and.... football!  For the season opener, I was so happy to have my Dad with me at our tailgate, even if he was cheering for Clemson!  Truth be told, there were lots of Clemson fans since the city is only 90 minutes away from Athens.  Everyone was super nice, and we all had a great time without giving each other grief.  But to keep the spirit of friendly competition, my Dad and I decided that the loser of the game would buy the other ice cream. Everyone wins in that bet! 
 Hubs brought his Dad, too, so it really was a family affair!  Red stayed home with my Mom watching the game on TV in the very cool (and much missed by me) air conditioner.  
 Hubs got his dad to play his first game of beer pong, and I had a chance to play cornhole with my mine. These boards someone brought with them were so thin, and I LOVED how portable they were compared to the giant 2x4 heavy versions you normally see. Me likey!
 The stadium was absolutely PACKED, 92,000 strong.  What a beautiful spread! 
 Thanks, Dad, for coming to the game with me. I really loved having you there with me!  I know Hubs loved having his Dad there, too.  Here's to a fabulous season for UGA - Gooooooooo DAWGS!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bloggity Blog

Sometimes, I get writer's block. Or burn out over the course of a week, whichever comes first. When you've been blogging for a hot minute, you feel like there's nothing else to write about.... and then just a few hours later you're gushing material and reaching for a stack of post-it-notes.  I've been so happy since I started the blog - it's a place for me to focus, create, explore and learn.  

I recently realized that I sometimes segment my life (costume design, parenting, professional work, styling and then blogging).  Many of the segments don't know about each other.... and when I realize that, it seems a little weird.  I've been making an effort to think about how I can incorporate them a little more without seeming like I'm just scrambling for something different... I promise, I'm focused! 

To give you a little idea of what's going on in my blogging mind, I've got some great questions that have been asked of me by Amy at Mom's Magical Miles.  Thanks to her for the nudge to share and thinking of me for her Blog Tour! I found Amy when I signed up for the Princess Half Marathon last year, and I'm always reading her tips for staying active and ways to make it easier and fun!

1) What am I working on? Way too many things. I have the craziest, non-routine schedule.  I'm working on Sleepy Hollow for my Middle School students, Much Ado About Nothing for my High School students, a possible CBS screen test, the #BeachesMoms Turks and Caicos trip, the upcoming Type-A Conference and a slew of original content posts that I can't finish, because I want to work on them all at once...   Also, two Cascade brand parties and a bunch of applications for other ones. I love to host!

2) How does my work differ from others of its type / genre? I feel like I have a goofy, silly, all-me voice. I've been told that my personality comes through in my writing, and I'll just pray to my lucky-star Gods that it really is the case.  I'm a parent blogger (for which there are 5-jillion), but I have a redhead that keeps me on my toes and I have a really odd sense of humor, morals and a type-A personality.  Plus, I'm REALLY loud and fun in person.  You should come give me a hug here

3) Why do I write what I do?  Oooh that is a weird question. I know I'm supposed to write for my audience (and mostly, I do), but I have to find it interesting. Would I read it? Am I electronically scrapbooking this? Does it apply to my life? You certainly won't find any sponsored posts for weird herbal supplements on this blog... it's not me.    I write what I like. Plain and simple :)  And I try to learn a lot from others as well as reading instructionals!

4) How does your writing process work? I totally start with my project, taking pictures along the way. I'm almost a photo blogger. Pictures or it didn't happen. Pictures of before and after (I'm REALLY trying to get better about before pictures. I get SO excited to start something and then snap a pic halfway through...) and throughout the process.  Then, I edit and organize my photos, building my story around them.  It's kind of like my visual outline for my post.  Then I'll edit it into the ground, forget to remove a few typos (that I totally fix... 12 hours after the fact) and boost it out.  It works for me! Thanks to Carly for my photo below!
Want more Bloggity Blog stuff? Try following my Blogging Pinterest board for tricks, tips, how-tos and other tidbits of information! 
How do you blog? What keeps you going, and what's your process?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WW: Beachin' It Up

Hey ya'll! You may have noticed that I've been absent for a few days... it's true.  I've been in Florida with my best friends and my lovely husband, doing nothing.  Nothing but eating, sleeping, laying on the beach, floating in the pool and drinking frozen lemonades (with a hint of vodka!).  And all sans-baby, thanks to my awesome Mom. 

Five days later, we've landed back at home, rushing with laundry, groceries, and getting back to normal.  But the memories we made over the past few days linger... and I'm still finding sand between my toes, so there's that... :)  Take a short tour over my favorite photos from the weekend:
Check out the pod of dolphins RIGHT off shore. We counted 8 individuals that buzzed us twice!
 Hubs WON the rib-off competition, and I was so happy. Even with the evening monsoon knocking over and spilling the entire contents of his homemade BBQ sauce before he used it, the cooking method and seasoning was AWESOME.  So happy!
 The boys made their annual pilgrimage to the surf shop for ridiculous, awful T-shirts. Mission accomplished. And we laughed for days about it.  
 The dinner spot we went to this year had a great white hanging in the rafters, so I snapped a picture for Red to feed his new found shark addiction.  The restaurant was nearly deserted for an off-season Monday night, but the appetizers and shrimp were really good! And the company wasn't too bad, either...
For the 5th year, we had our picture taken after dinner.  Can't quit a tradition! 
 So I'm sorry for my absence, but I was having a great time! Where was your last vacation?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

These Paper Towels Can REALLY Clean Up a Mess

Thank you to Viva Vantage and Walmart for sponsoring this post and helping me clean up my messes!

Because that I have a toddler (3 years old, to be exact), I have some serious messes. Sticky, ooey, gooey, and plenty of gross. Add potty training to the mix, and it's a veritable rats nest of ick. One of my worst messes (besides the trail of pee to the bathroom!) is maple syrup at breakfast. Red is a nut case for waffles, and has now shown an interest in the sticky sweet stuff that goes with it. I used to give him just a dot of maple syrup, but now that's he's older, he's constantly requesting, "More Dip-It, Mama! More Syrup!" So, I oblige him with a tablespoon or two. But, as you can imagine, that makes a HUGE mess with drips. For better or for worse, I tried Viva® Vantage paper towels for their claims that it's durable and won't break up on me when I'm tackling my big messes. I picked up my three pack of paper towels at my local Walmart, just around the corner. I'm glad they sold a three pack for such a good price, because I need a big supply!
Viva Vantage Paper Towels now available at Walmart!
Every morning, Red has his choice of breakfasts.  While I'm dragging myself to my coffee pot, Red is chirping, "Waffles! Oatmeal! Cereal!" all the way to his booster seat.  As long as he's not getting too much sugar in the morning, we'll opt for waffles with syrup as a weekday treat.  But being a big boy, Red is now asking to dip-it himself, and since I'm all about encouraging independence I let him feed himself and make a mess while he does it (inner ocd mom is cringing now...). Look at that happy, dipping, waffle-eating child; he's in breakfast heaven!
What he produces after he's had his fill of waffles is a drippy, syrup-dotted, sticky mess of a table (and shirt... and plate... and sometimes floor).  And since we're usually trying to brush teeth, grab clothes, and rush to school after breakfast, the syrup gets to sit on the table for a good 20 minutes more and solidify while we're away..... yum.  See the real-life, post-meal syrupy exhibit A:
Gross.  And so sticky.  I only needed a spray of cleaner to dissolve the syrup and wiped it up with just one small Viva towel.  Before, my old paper towels easily stuck with the syrup and tore away. Not with this one! I was surprised at how strong it was.  I even had to do a stretch test for myself to see exactly how far the fibers would go!  (They went a little farther when totally dry)  The best thing about the Viva® Vantage Paper Towels besides the weird, totally real stretch aspect is the select-a-size option.  I can choose one small towel for sticky food messes and hands, and a triple pane of towels for those giant spills on the carpet. 
And the syrupy mess from breakfast? Gone in a split second.  My family-hand-me-down table is perfectly clean thanks to those awesome, stretchy towels.  Will I go back to my old paper towels? Nope. I'm breaking up with them because Viva didn't break up on me!  Have you tried these paper towels yet? I'm really impressed and would love to see someone make baby wipes from them - they are soft yet tough!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

eMeals' NEW 30 Minute Meal Plan & Discount

Okay, ya'll know what a freak I am about eMeals. I'm always making an eMeals recipe for dinner, cooking for house guests and trying to get more meals into my family.  We've been using the clean eating plan for at least 2 years, and low and behold, I got word from eMeals today about a new meal plan.  30 Minute Meals are now available for your family!  

If you have never tried eMeals because you think haven't got time to cook, you need to think again! With shorter recipes, fewer ingredients, fast-prep slow-cooker meals and super speedy twists on your old favorites, you'll be making home cooked meals in a snap.  eMeals created a 30-minute meal plan focused on providing nightly meals that can be made in a blink! As always, you can shop at any grocery store for seasonal items using your own coupons.  Each of the meals takes 30 minutes or less of prep time, and depending on the season (Winter is Coming..... hee hee), this plan will often include a few EASY PREP slow-cooker meals a week.   I'm usually AWFUL about slow-cooker meals because of the intense prep it takes, but I'm stoked to try these recipes.

Be sure to use the code SCHOOL for 20% off any meal plan!  Now take a peek at the White Bacon Pizza below for a sampling of the new 30 minute meal plan and make your family's tummies happy!
White Bacon Pizza
with Homestyle Tomato Soup

2 (10- or 14-oz) packages baked pizza crusts
(original or thin crust)
1 (2.5-oz) package real bacon pieces
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
¼ teaspoon dried basil
Preheat oven to 425°F. Place each pizza crust on a pizza pan or large baking sheet.  Divide bacon, tomatoes, and cheese between each crust. Whisk eggs, milk and basil; slowly drizzle over pizzas. Bake 20 minutes or until egg mixture is set.
   Homestyle Tomato Soup:
2 (14½-oz) cans chicken broth
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup milk or heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ cup sour cream

Combine broth and tomatoes in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer; stir in milk and basil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until thoroughly heated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Top each serving with a spoonful of sour cream.
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